CFM aims to support its local leaders by providing this information to train and guide group leaders as they shepherd their members. Additional support and resources can be obtained by contacting the National Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Video Training Program 2017
New to leading CFM in your parish or want to refine and re-energize your skills? Your CFM national team can help you sow seeds for happy, holy families!
Part 1 - CFM's Mission (9 min.)
Part 2 - Spirituality for CFM Leaders (9 min.)
Part 3 - Qualities of Good Leaders (5 min.)
Part 4 - Succeeding at Leadership (5 min.)
Part 5 - Learning by Experience (5 min.)
Part 6 - Working with Groups (5 min.)
Leader Packet 2017
These PDF files were sent to all group leaders in July 2016. They provide useful information for getting started in the 2016-17 program year. If you are a group leader, start here for the latest program materials and membership information. Note: Many files have been updated since last year. BIG CHANGE: Group leaders should send a list of their members (including email addresses).
- Introductory Letter
- Leader Guide Bookmark
- Why Your Membership Matters - Donation Info
- Membership Form
- Group List
- Promotional Flyer for Meeting Jesus Changes Everything
- Program Options - both hardcover and digital
- Order Form for Other Promo Materials
- Sample CFM Brochure
- Hosting a Meeting Guide / Group Agreement
- Schedule some FUN.
- Get to know the people in your group.
- Stay in touch outside the meeting.
- Make sure everyone knows when and where the meetings are.
- Follow up by phone or email when members miss.
- Make a roster to ensure good communication.
- Challenge your couples to make a commitment to CFM and to be there for the meetings. They will reap the benefits of building relationships with other caring adults who reinforce their value system and provide a network of support for their family. Community grows if people "invest" themselves.
Tips for Leaders
This section contains a number of tips CFM USA has compiled. Click on the list below to skip to the desired tip:
- Group Size & Organization
- Mentoring New Groups
- Establishing Expectations for Your Meetings
- Tips for Better CFM Meetings
- Connect to Worldwide CFM
- Group Event Coordination
- Perserving Thru Discouragement
- Discussing Politics
Group size is important. When the group grows beyond eight families it is time to think about splitting. Some large federations find a larger group size works for them, but most CFM groups prefer groups of 5 to 7 families. Groups of this size have good participation from everyone present. Quieter members may get overlooked in larger gatherings. Our experience is that larger groups have poorer attendance because people feel they will not be missed.
Should we reorganize membership of groups annually? While we are aware of some groups that do quite well with static membership, encouraging formation of new groups and bringing new people into the CFM process is part of the CFM approach. It is our experience that vitality suffers when groups are not open to new members. However, we realize some groups face such strong resistance to this action that it threatens the survival of the federation. In this instance, we would not recommend proceeding with the reorganization without the assurance of cooperation on the part of members. Giving some control to members by organizing around leaders or time might help with this. It may be impossible to make everyone happy no matter what you do.
Leading a CFM group is an exercise in Christian charity. Most important of all is that Christ be the center of your group. If that is so, all should go well.
It's very helpful to place new members with experienced CFMers their first year. This gives them a chance to get comfortable with the experience. Some groups have all the new families together at the start of the year. By adding two experienced families, they will be encouraged to share and learn the ropes of the observe, judge & act method. These mentors are, in essence, sharing the Good News of CFM and helping to grow the gift in their parish.
Ongoing care of new members:
Sometimes groups don’t always “gel” during the first year. The parish leader should stay in contact with new members to help them stay excited about CFM and the benefits it will bring to their families.
- PRAY for the success of the CFM groups in your parish and around the world.
- Call each of the new CFM members midway through the year to make sure they are enjoying their CFM experience. Is it what they expected? Are they having any problems in attending meetings (babysitting issues, scheduling conflicts)? The parish leader should try to address any concerns that arise.
- Talk to the CFM group leaders toward the end of the CFM year to get a sense of any members that may not join again the following year. Try to resolve any problems that may be keeping these couples from staying in CFM (babysitting issues, etc.).
When a new family joins your group, or when you begin a new group, it’s a great opportunity to reestablish expectations and reiterate goals. Long-standing groups can fall into habits that need breaking. Does your group always run overtime? Does your discussion stray off track? Do you never seem to get to the Act portion of the meeting? Do members repeatedly fail to follow through on actions?
Take the time to briefly outline the goals and schedule for the different parts of your meeting in order to refocus your group on putting faith into action. Refer members to the "Outline of a CFM Meeting" in your program book.
You may want to discuss with your group what schedule they would prefer. Make sure adequate time is allotted for the Observe-Judge-Act discussion since it is the core of CFM.
One suggested schedule for a meeting follows. Emphasize some of the following points so that the group will have shared expectations.
10 min Gather
The leader should keep an eye on the time and gently move the group into the meeting at the appropriate time.
75 min Meeting
Keep the discussion on track and moving toward the Act section. Take time during the Act section to get member to consider and verbally choose an action. Of course members may change their minds, but if members don't take time to choose an action now, some never will.
End on time to avoid eating into fellowship time which is also important for the group. Sometimes a good discussion can be continued into the refreshment time.
10 min Business
Take the time to choose a host and location for the next meeting. Remind members of imminent events and projects. Have sign up sheets prepared in advance.
30 min Light refreshments and fellowship
Social time builds community. Remind members to keep refreshments simple. We don't want to burden the host, and we also want to be mindful of the poor.
Your group may have a different model:
15 min Gather
15 min Business
90 min Meeting
30 min Dessert
No matter what your chosen schedule, set clear expectations and model them when you lead in order to help your member families get the most out of their CFM year.
When You Host:
- Call the members of your group 3 to 4 days before the meeting to remind them to come, give directions, etc. Encourage them to do their ACTIONS & OBSERVATIONS beforehand.
- Try to involve your children in the preparation for the meeting (baking, cleaning, rolling out the red carpet). The night of the meeting, ask them to help welcome everyone…help take coats, put out the snacks, etc. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach Christian hospitality and share your family with the group!
- Keep it simple. Please provide beverages (soft drinks, coffee, tea) and some sort of dessert after the meeting. FELLOWSHIP, not food, is the focus.
Group Members Have Responsibilities, too:
- If you are unable to attend a meeting/social activity, please call the hosts.
- Be aware, each person needs a chance to share. Try to state your observes and opinions briefly.
- Be considerate. Really listen to the person before you jump in with your thought. Realize and respect that each person sees life from a unique and different perspective...they may differ in their opinion. Listen with an open mind.
- Click here to open a new browser window with a Group Agreement.
- CFM IS AN ON-GOING PROGRAM...YOU WILL GENERALLY GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU’RE WILLING TO PUT INTO IT!
When You Lead a Meeting, Remember:
- Couples should read through the lesson together and decide how you’ll share the "leadership". Get any materials together (extra paper, pens, candle, etc.) You might want to bring a special prayer or song to set the mood for the meeting.
- Start on time and end on time. Remember the social time after the discussion is also important for the building of community...and relaxing! If the discussion goes too long it will mean less social time.
- Be aware of the time and "keep it rolling" in order to progress from OBSERVES to JUDGES to ACTS...the whole sequence is the CFM meeting. If you’re spending more time on one question, call a "time out" to get on track or skip a question or two to keep things moving.
- CFM uses OPEN SHARING for discussion...which means, leave the response open to the group. If the facilitator asks a specific person their opinion, that person can "pass" if they prefer not to share at this time.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Often people need time to organize their thoughts before they respond. Leave time for this to happen.
- Try to stick to the questions. If a really good side discussion happens, encourage people to continue it during social time.
- Encourage couples to DO an ACTION and make their OBSERVATIONS between meetings! These are the things that actually help us LIVE OUT what we TALK about!
- Click here for an insert to print out and glue on the inside front cover of the CFM book listing"groundrules"/helpful hints for hosting meetings.
CFM is an international movement, over 90,000 members strong. However, many members lack a sense that CFM is larger than their local parish action group. They don't feel connected to the national or international movement. A sense of connection to CFM as a world-wide movement can be energizing. Members are encouraged when reminded that families around the world share their values and are striving to build the Kingdom along with them. Also, the national movement relies on the time and work volunteered by individual members around the country in order to keep the movement strong and growing. You can help your members to stay connected to the larger movement in the following ways:
- Encourage families to fill out a registration form. This ensures that they receive communications from the national office. If financial hardship is a concern, scholarships are available. Simply write "scholarship requested" in the dues section of the membership form.
- Confirm that your members are receiving ACT & encourage them to read it.
- Invite members to contribute to ACT. Appoint a group reporter to send group action reports, news, and photos to email@example.com for inclusion in ACT. ACT is always looking for submissions: articles, book & movie reviews, artwork, photos. What does your group have to offer?
- Remind members to Like us on Facebook. You could appoint a group Facebook liaison to post group photos and action reports to the CFM Facebook page.
- Forward the ICCFM newsletter (e-mailed to leaders) to your members. This is the news of the international movement.
- Plan a regional gathering for CFM families or leaders.
Invite CFM groups or leaders from your region to collaborate on a larger service project, or enjoy a weekend camping trip together. How better to help your group identify with the national movement then to meet some other CFMers? If planning such a large gathering is daunting, consider hosting a wine & cheese or day of reflection & collaboration for regional leaders. Even easier, invite the leader couple of a neighboring CFM group over to your home for dinner. Sharing ideas, experiences, and concerns with other CFM leaders can be enlivening.
- Consider volunteering to serve as your area representative to the CFM-USA Board of Directors. CFM's national board of directors meets semi-annually to facilitate the development of program materials, manage the ongoing operation of CFM, and decide on ways to reach more families. Spouses typically serve together and are elected to a two year term. Summer Board meeting includes a parallel children's program of fun activities to keep the kids happy while the adults attend to the business of CFM. Children love it and want to come back. Contact the vice president couple or the national office for more information about serving on the National Board. If you are unable to serve at this time, is there a CFM family from your group who has the talent and energy to serve in this way?
- Pray together for the movement.
The Prayer for the Christian Family Movement is found at the back of your program book. Use it when your group gathers for picnics, parties, and service projects, or as an alternative closing prayer for your meetings. Praying for the movement reminds us of our shared mission.
It is natural that your member families will identify most closely with their local action group. After all, that is where they have formed relationships. It is where they find support and encouragement for building a Christ-centered marriage and family. Keep your group focused on living their Christian faith in everyday life and improving society through actions of love, service, education and example. Be a light to the world in these ways, and you will be doing the work of the Christian Family Movement.
In planning your group's events, remember to delegate! Your group will grow stronger as your members invest themselves in group events. If an event has been done before, call upon the previous coordinators. If each family plans one social event or service project, your group will probably be more active than last year, and you won't be burnt out. Of course, some people will drop the ball - but new leaders are being formed with every success. Give it a try!
Have a sign up sheet and list of social and service event ideas available at your kick-off or first meeting. Ask each family to sign up to coordinate a social event or service project. Consider appointing an outreach chair and a social chair to encourage follow through and to lend support to inexperienced members.
Checklist for Planners
- Discuss the event with your group for ideas and assistance. Choose a date!
- Plan what you will need. Ask group members for assistance.
- Reserve the venue you will be using i.e. parish hall, skating rink, picnic pavilion, etc. well ahead of time, some have lead times of 6 months or more.
- Advertise in the parish bulletin if appropriate.
- Send email reminders or make phone calls to group members to make your event a success.
- Take pictures.
- Afterward, write up for ACT newsletter.
- Consider writing a "how-to" with pertinent information for next year's event planner.
Ideas for Social Events & Service Projects
This sample sign up sheet includes ideas for social events and service projects.
Does anyone even care? Are people just too busy with other commitments? At some point during each CFM year, I ask myself these questions and doubt whether leading a CFM group is worth the effort. Some group members certainly pose difficulties: one always becomes critical and longwinded at meetings; one couple always finds an excuse for why they can't make the meeting, while another always cancels at the last minute when it is their turn to host the meeting.
If you are experiencing any of these discouragements, I have been there. When I am feeling disheartened, even small efforts can seem a hurdle too tall. At this point in the year, much of leading the group is simply communication: inviting your members to show up at next week's meeting; calling or emailing the couple who missed last month; sending a thank you to the family that planned your CFM Christmas party; picking a date for your next meeting and calling each family to invite them. Much of the month-to-month work of leading your group is reaching out and gathering them together.
In my times of discouragement I have repeatedly drawn inspiration from words published in ACT (May 2008) by then CFM President John Przybysz:
"It is worth remembering that leadership in CFM is a pastoral vocation. The Lord has called us to look after his sheep. In Latin, the word "pastor" means "shepherd." We are called to be good shepherds. Jesus talked about what it meant for him to be the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of John. Some of it sounds easy. "The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." (John 10:3) And "He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice." (John 10:4) This is a happy flock, all gathered around the shepherd. In fact, shepherds spend a lot of time chasing after sheep that wander off. Jesus said, "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray." (Matt 18:12-13) If we watch a shepherd and his sheepdog at work, we see how much time is spent rounding up the sheep. Leadership in the Christian Family Movement is a vocation from God. It is the work He asks us to do to build up His kingdom. Other disciples receive other tasks. Some are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and some are put to death. Compared to that, what are a few phone calls? This job is easy! As St. Paul said, "In your struggle against evil you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood." (Hebrews 11:2) Time spent on the phone talking to members of CFM can be a joy. CFMers are good people. It is good to take the time to build the bonds of friendship. Christian communities work best when the people involved actually like each other. If all the Lord asks of me is to take the time to call my friends, then I should thank Him for the light burden and make those calls."
Thank you for all that you do keep your action group going.
As we strive to put our faith into action in our homes, communities, workplaces, and the world, of course politics may arise in our discussion. CFMers don't shy away from applying our faith to questions in the public square. We cannot divorce ourselves from political issues, as so many political questions come to bare on the christian family. Listening to the call of the gospel may draw us into the political arena. Ideally your CFM group should provide a place for members to explore how their faith informs their politics. However, sometimes political discussion can derail a meeting, or people who are not used to discussing politics can find it divisive. When politics surface at your meeting keep these guidelines in mind:
Are members being respectful of each other?
CFMers respect each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. All should be striving to bring the gospel to the world and to build the kingdom of God. Opinions often come from life experience. Listening with understanding without the intent of condemnation, and speaking using persuasion to communicate the reason for a particular point of view leads to respectful discussion.
Is this discussion leading us toward action?
The goal of our discussion should not be agreement, but action. Each member is on an individual journey, and agreement may not be possible at the moment. Steer the discussion toward how members can put their faith into action and make a difference. Even people who disagree on politics can agree on an action.
Is this discussion related to the meeting topic?
Look to the scripture passage and Observes to inform your discussion. The Observe-Judge-Act method should provide a framework where members can reconcile their faith with political questions and find a way to Act in christian love. If the political discussion is off-topic, over-heated, or threatening to damage the group, ask the members to put it aside until after the meeting.
Unite your members through prayer.
Political discussion may make some members uncomfortable. Try to bring respectful closure to your conversation and unite your members through your closing prayer. Offer a petition for understanding and respect between members and thanksgiving for a place where christians can safely and lovingly explore these issues in faith.
The CFM Guide for Leaders is intended for the CFM chaircouple or chairperson at the parish. It gives tips on creating, leading and developing CFM groups. Click here to open a new browser window with the CFM Guide for Leaders.
The Leader Training Handbook is intended for anyone who is leading a CFM group. It gives tips on leading CFM meetings and discusses group leader and member responsibilities. It is based on CFM at a large parish in Southern California. It generally reflects their particular structure which entails ten or more small groups and a leadership board structure. In addition to the regular CFM small group meetings, there are many CFM activities/programs listed which involve the whole parish membership. Some of this material may not reflect your particular parish situation, especially if you have only one group in your parish. However, the sections on leading meetings and qualities of a group leader are still very useful for any sized CFM group. Click here to open a new browser window with the Leader Training Handbook.
Acting on Faith: The Acts of the Apostles and Today’s Christian Families was a presentation used during leader training in August 2012 at Our Lady of the Wayside in Arlington Heights, IL. Click here to open a new browser window with the Acting on Faith: The Acts of the Apostles and Today’s Christian Families.
Click here to open a new browser window with the CFM USA Bylaws, adopted at the January 2016 Board Meeting.
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